This sample essay on Ian Wilmut provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
| The Life and Accomplishments of Ian Wilmut| Dr. Ian Wilmut with the year-old Dolly in 1997. Dolly was the first animal to be cloned from DNA taken from an adult animal. © Najlah Feanny/CORBIS SABA| James Ray| Shepherd University| 9/16/2011| | Ian Wilmut is an embryologist from England that is arguably the most controversial researcher in recent history. He is considered to be the pioneer of cloning. He and his colleagues successfully cloned a lamb they named Dolly. He received many awards for his controversial work while enduring great backlash for the ethical implications of his accomplishments.
Ian Wilmut was born July 7, 1944 in Hampton Lucy, Warwickshire, England (American Academy of Achievement, 2005). His father was Leonard Wilmut, a mathematics teacher at the Boys’ High School in Scarborough were Ian would later attend. His father was also a long time diabetes sufferer that eventually lost his sight to the disease (Lovetoknow Corp, 2008). It is thought that this experience may have been the early foundation for Ian Wilmut’s interest in scientific research. As a child, Ian Wilmut was raised in the town of Coventry (American Academy of Achievement, 2005).
Early in his life Wilmut was interested in agriculture and farming spending much of his time in the outdoors and working as a farm hand (Wilmut, Creating the Genetic Replica, 1998). Wilmut once dreamed of a naval career, but those dreams were short lived due to his color blindness (Wilmut, Creating the Genetic Replica, 1998). As a young adult Ian Wilmut attended the University of Nottingham to pursue a degree in Agriculture. He felt he did not have the business sense to be successful in commercial farming so Wilmut focused his attention on agricultural research.
While completing his undergraduate work at the University of Nottingham, Wilmut was exposed to the field of embryology by his mentor G. Eric Lamming. Lamming was a renowned expert in reproduction and after introducing Wilmut to his field, Wilmut knew that genetic engineering of animals was his quest in life. After graduation from the University of Nottingham, Wilmut attended the Darwin College at the University of Cambridge. In 1966 Wilmut spent 8 weeks working with Christopher Polge in his laboratory (Wilmut, Creating the Genetic Replica, 1998).
Polge is credited with developing the technique of cryopreservation in 1949 (Rall, 2007). Wilmut was fascinated by Polge’s work and joined his laboratory in pursuit of a research PhD. His doctoral dissertation dealt with the freezing of boar semen and embryos. Based on this research, Wilmut was able to successfully produce the first calf born from a frozen embryo, a Hereford-Friesian named Frostie (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000).
This scientific advance allowed cattle breeders to increase the quality of their herd by implanting the embryos of the cows that produced the best meat and milk into cows of inferior quality. Wilmut graduated with his PhD in 1973 and took a research job with the Animal Breeding Research Station in Scotland. The research station was both privately and government funded and soon became known as the Roslin Institute in Roslin, Scotland (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000).
It is widely believed that Wilmut began his research in embryology after over hearing a conversation about Dr. Steen Willadsen, an embryologist that had used a cell from an embryo already in development to clone a sheep. Wilmut began applying Dr. Willesden’s research findings to his own research at the Roslin Institute. In 1991, animal activists heard about Wilmut’s research and burned down his laboratory. However, Wilmut was undeterred and secured funding from Pharmaceutical Proteins, LTD Therapeutics to continue his research. The greatest and most controversial part of Wilmut’s career began in 1996.
Wilmut and a team of researchers took the DNA of a 6 year old Finn Dorset ewe’s mammary gland, switched off the active genes, and fused it with an egg cell from a Scottish Blackface ewe from which he removed the genetic material (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). Wilmut used electricity to fuse that mammary cell with its own DNA to the empty egg while it was in the dormant state. He repeated the same process with 277 udder cells and eggs from sheep (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). 9 of those eggs began to grow and divide into embryos (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). Wilmut then transferred the 29 embryos into surrogate sheep resulting in 13 of the sheep becoming pregnant (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). Of those 13 sheep, only one delivered a healthy lamb (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). On July 5, 1996, Dolly was born at the Roslin Institute.
Wilmut has said that he named the lamb after country music singer Dolly Parton (Wilmut, Creating the Genetic Replica, 1998). After insuring Dolly was developing in a healthy manner and securing a patent for his work, Wilmut introduced Dolly to the world in February 1997 as a product of somatic cell nuclear transfer. DNA testing revealed that Dolly was in fact the genetic replica of her mother (Dewar, 2004). Dolly delivered four healthy offspring during her lifetime. In 2003, Dolly succumbed to pulmonary adenomatosis (Wilmut & Highfield, After Dolly, 2006).
After cloning Dolly, Wilmut went on to produce Molly and Polly, who had commercial value. They were each cloned with a human gene that allowed their milk to contain a blood clotting protein factor IX, which could be extracted to treat human hemophilia (Wilmut & Highfield, After Dolly, 2006). Eventually, herds of sheep with genetic proteins in their milk could be produced, turning them into living drug factories for other diseases as well. Wilmut hoped that technology could be used with pigs to create human-adaptable organs for transplants. He also envisioned that certain genes could be more easily isolated and modified.
Wilmut did could not have predicted the controversy his accomplishments would create. Media played up society’s fears of cloning human beings. Religious organizations lobbied against the use of embryos in research and called it murder. In March 1997, Wilmut appeared before the U. S. Senate public health and safety subcommittee hearing to discuss the ethical implications of his work. He said”I know what is bothering people about all this. I understand why the world is suddenly at my door. But this is my work. It has always been my work, and it doesn’t have anything to do with creating copies of human beings.
I am no haunted by what I do, if that’s what you want to know. I sleep very well at night. ” In 1999, Wilmut lobbied for a change to Great Britain’s 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology Act to allow for the use of surplus eggs from assisted fertilization treatments to be developed for their stem cells. He sits on a Church of Scotland committee that examines the ethical issues surrounding advancements in science and technology. Although he is not a religious person, his focus is to neutralize critics so that scientific and technological advances can continue. Ian Wilmut wrote two books with his colleagues including Keith Campbell.
These works include The Second Creation: The Age of Biological Control by the Scientists Who Cloned Dolly and After Dolly. In 2005, Wilmut received a license in the U. K. to clone human embryos for the purpose of culturing human stem cells. His goal was to investigate treatments for Motor Neuron Disorder. At the same time, the United States passed legislation to prohibit the use of government funding for research involving human embryos. Wilmut abandoned his use of human embryos when Dr. Shinya Yamanaka of Japan was able to program skin cells from adult mice to revert back to their original stem cell state.
Ian Wilmut’s discoveries and advancements to the scientific community have garnered him several awards. His work with Dolly earned him Time Magazine’s 1997 Man of the Year Runner Up (Time Magazine, 1997). In 1998 he was inducted into the Museum of Living History in Washington, D. C. and was given the Lord Lloyd of Kilgerran Award. He was entered into the Order of the British Empire (OBE), the Fraternal Order of the Royal Society (FRE), the United Kingdom’s Academy of Sciences (FMedSci), and the Royal Society of Edinburgh (FRSE). In 2008, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II of England (BBC, 2007). Ian Wilmut is a balding, unassuming man.
He is married with three children, Helen, Naomi, and Dean. While currently out of the controversial limelight, Wilmut is the current Director of the Medical Research Council Centre for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Edinburgh. He lives in the Scottish countryside with his family. He enjoys gardening, the sport of curling and taking long walks (Wilmut, Creating the Genetic Replica, 1998). The impact of Ian Wilmut’s work is far reaching. It lays the basis for possibly treating or curing diseases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s through the use of stem cells (Wilmut & Highfield, After Dolly, 2006).
It could lead to better agricultural stock without the fear of deadly diseases such as mad cow disease (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000). Furthermore, his works could possibly be used to prevent animals from becoming extinct. Although controversial, I believe Ian Wilmut’s advances in science are for the greater good. The only concern I have is now that the process is known, what is to prevent some self funded millionaire from cloning humans (Dewar, 2004).
It is easier to control research that is dependent on public or governmental funds, but one cannot control those that already have the funds. I chose Ian Wilmut because I was interested in cloning and what useful purposes it has for society. I understood the implications for the treatment of diseases but I did not realize the other uses as well. For example, I did not think that a lamb could be genetically engineered, without harm, to produce milk that could treat hemophilia in humans (Wilmut, Campbell, & Tudge, The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control, 2000).
I did not consider that cloning could be used to prevent the extinction of endangered species. Works Cited Time Magazine. (1997, March 10). Time. American Academy of Achievement. (2005, October 25). Retrieved September 15, 2011, from Museum of Living History: http://www. achievement. org/autodoc/page/wil0bio-1 BBC. (2007, December 29). Retrieved September 22, 2011, from BBC: http://news. bbc. co. uk/1/uk/7163587. stm Lovetoknow Corp. (2008). Retrieved September 20, 2011, from biography. yourdictionary. com: http://biography. ourdictionary. com/ian-wilmut Dewar, E. (2004). The Second Tree. New York: Carrol & Graf Publishers. Rall, W. (2007). Ernest John Christopher Polge. In W. Rall, Cryobiology (pp. 241-242). Wilmut, I. (1998, May 23). Creating the Genetic Replica. (T. A. Achievement, Interviewer) Wilmut, I. , & Highfield, R. (2006). After Dolly. New York: W. W. Norton & Company. Wilmut, I. , Campbell, K. , & Tudge, C. (2000). The Second Creation: Dolly and the Age of Biological Control. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.